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Family Meliaceae (order Sapindales), composed of 575 species in 51 genera of trees and (rarely) shrubs native to tropical and subtropical regions. Trees of the genus Swietenia and Entandrophragma, commonly called mahogany, and of the genus Cedrela (especially the cigar-box cedar, C. odorata) are economically important timber trees. The China tree (Melia azedarach), also called chinaberry, bead tree, and Persian lilac, is an ornamental Asian tree with fragrant, lilac-coloured flowers and attractive but poisonous round yellow fruits, often cultivated in tropical and warm temperate areas. Most members of the family have large compound leaves and branched flower clusters. A few have edible fruits.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on mahogany family, visit Britannica.com.
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